Review: ‘Mars Attacks The Human Condition’

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Do you like holidays? Of course. Do you like books? You probably do if you’re reading this. Do you like Mars? The planet or the candy, it doesn’t matter. Have you ever wondered was there anything those wacky Martians won’t attack? Wonder no more. The answer is no. They are as shameless as Deadpool used to be in going in and maiming everything possible. Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Moby Dick, Jekyll & Hyde, and Robinson Crusoe are all on the menu in this buffet of Martian tales. “Mars Attacks The Human Condition” showcases a healthy mix of creators and settings for those glass-domed goofs to destroy, destroy, destroy!

WRITTEN BY: Fred Hembeck, Bill Morrison, Ian Boothby, Dean Haspiel, Phil Hester, Beau Smith, Neil Kleid
ART BY: Fred Hembeck, Tone Rodriguez, Alan Robinson, Dean Haspiel, John McCrea, Kelley Jones, Carlos Valenzuela
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASE: November 20, 2013

Legendary comedic comics’ creator Fred Hembeck starts up the anthology with a light hearted story of Mars Attacking Halloween. I say “light-hearted” but don’t let that fool you. There are some really dark twists in this tale I was shocked to find. Hembeck has a fond nostalgic spot in my childhood as I read his classic Marvel Roast issue until it literally fell apart in my hands. His art style has always been light and fun in the same way The Simpsons is. He, like the classic TV series, can also get away with way more mayhem when it’s not realistic. Hembeck runs with that here with great comedic effect.

Veterans Day takes a more serious tone in the second tale by Bill Morrison and Tone Rodriguez. Vets discover the Martians attacking and no one believes these old coots! Rodriguez’s art style reminds me of The Goon’s Eric Powell mixed with timeless Booster Gold artist Dan Jurgens in all the right ways. There’s more realism in his designs but it works for this WWII era story.

Thanksgiving parades will never be the same for me after reading this comedic tale by Ian Boothby and Alan Robinson. It’s very fast paced and spoofs just about everything it can in just twelve pages. It’s a fun madcap romp which is a nice change of pace. All these stories are very different as this one stands out as one of the more fun ones.

Mars attacking Christmas takes a very sombre approach from Dean Haspiel. Haspiel tries to show the good side of Martians at least for one day of the year. I wasn’t aware of this but soccer really is universal. This story really is a stand-alone one. It’s the only one in this book that tries to humanize our would-be conquerors. Unlike our next tale, this chapter feels very dramatic which is odd for these kinds of stories.

Moby Dick is the first of the classics to be attacked by the Martians. Phil Hester and John McCrea go overboard and knock it out of the park on this chronicling of Herman Melville’s classic. This account of how Melville came to be a writer is one of the more impressive in this collection. McCrea’s art is pure dynamism in each panel. Everything – the whale attacks, the sea captain, the sea creatures all look wholly exceptional. There’s a weight to Melville’s account of what transpired and it comes through this story.

‘Dr. Jackal & Mr. Snide’ are next up for the Martians to conquer. Beau Smith and Kelley Jones modernize the classic Jekyll & Hyde by making Dr. Jackal creating a DNA enhancement serum. We all know how this goes. Kelley Jones’ artwork is much lighter than what I’m accustomed to seeing from him. It makes sense as this story doesn’t need to be as dark as his cult classic Batman & Dracula: Red Rain trilogy. Jones takes advantage of the story material and makes the action almost comical as Mr. Snide deals with the Martians.

The final piece is an isolated one with Mars attacking Robinson Crusoe. A Martian is stranded on an island and has to survive to continue his squad’s mission of conquest. Neil Kleid and Carlos Velenzuela leave one survivor to slowly go insane alone with haunting effect. This is a very capable creative team that I hope get bigger and better opportunities in the future. Insanity can take anyone, including Martians.

Overall, this is a fun collection. It’s worth a look if you need to stock up for the holidays as a nice stocking stuffer. It’s light and fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Mars has attacked just about everything at this point.

3.5/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – Your Friendly Neighborhood Brady